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- Written by Eman Jueid
- Category: Featured Partner: elan Magazine
Elan: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?
Faisal Tahir Khan: I started my entrepreneurial journey while I was still in law school and had my humble beginnings by consulting and trading between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Since then, I have not only been a director but have been on the board of few companies in Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Malaysia and Japan. I had the opportunity to be involved in different deals in energy, commodities, real-estate, construction, halal food, aviation, tourism and general trading. Recently, I advised the highest office of the Government of Saudi Arabia on an important reform that has an international significance. Currently I am involved in pre-IPO private placement of one of the largest food companies in United Kingdom. In the past I have advised the Government of Pakistan and leading oil companies on matters related to the Energy Charter Treaty while working at a think tank in Pakistan. I also lived and worked in Malaysia with a Japanese company and opened their first Far East office in Kuala Lampur.
I graduated in Finance from Lahore School of Economics and other post graduate courses at the Madinah Institute of Leadership and Entrepreneurship.
I have been a keynote speaker at different forums and workshops in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia and occasionally writes in Arab News.
Elan: You’re an entrepreneur and a policy adviser. Do those roles go hand in hand?
FTK: I believe so, as I use to do parliamentary style debates and also represented Pakistan in international debating competitions, it helped me to be quite active and vocal on different public policy matters. I was also an active member of different study circles, brain storming forums and regional think tanks. I kept that style in my professional life too and converted that into a business model.
My motivation is derived from being a positive change agent in my community and being an entrepreneur and policy adviser serve that purpose quite well.
Elan: You’ve worked in almost every market. What’s one recommendation that you would give to the MENA and South Asia markets?
FTK: Around 60 % of MENASA demographics are less than the age of 30, which are both an opportunity and a threat. As you can witness the cause of Arab Spring was due to disgruntled youth mostly based in MENASA region that requires better education standards, health facilities, better standard of living, state of the art infrastructure and equal economic opportunities.
My one recommendation to the private sector would be to be bullish in these markets and to public sector would be to build a knowledge based economy and to achieve sustainability position themselves as energy driven economies not oil.
Elan: What has been their greatest strength?
FTK: Doing Business in MENASA is amazing as it shares mostly common language, traditions, custom, culture and religion. Historically MENASA had intra-trading routes and in different eras the region shared unified policies due to their governance structure. Above all the region has rich history and civilization.
Elan: What has been you’re greatest challenge in your career?
FTK: Honestly, being a first generation entrepreneur in our part of the world is the greatest challenge. One has to go against all odds to become an entrepreneur as the social fabric and the eco-system is in its infancy stage in terms of harnessing and fostering entrepreneurship.
I literally took monumental risks very early in life and walked on the edges but I must say I enjoyed every minute of those moments, as those challenges made me the person what I am today.
Like any other entrepreneur I had to struggle with keeping myself above the water and constantly thriving hard to keep positive cash flow and simultaneously ensuring market penetration. Perhaps these are the challenges every start up has to overcome.
Elan: What are some new projects you’re working on?
FTK: Besides my involvement in general trading, consultancy and bridging cross-continent investments, I am working on to develop a unique business model that will develop the eco-system of entrepreneurship in the MENASA region. It is my utmost desire to provide the youth that comes after me the required conducive environment to become an entrepreneur.
In Malaysia, along with my partners, we are working to develop a cultural theme park that will represent global cultures in a unified project that will become a global touristic attraction.By Moniza Khokhar, Elan Magazine
This content is provided courtesy of Elan Magazine
*Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee
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